This water toy offers a Daedalian temptation that’s worth giving in to.
Like a lot of first encounters, ours took place online, There was a shimmer of otherworldly motion snaking seductively across my screen. My mouth hung open. But I ended up tucking the images away in my brain like so many other pieces of Internet-sourced detritus. “No way someone can actually do that,” I assured myself.
But a few days later an e-mail about the video appeared in my inbox as if sent by the Internet itself. It was a bold solicitation of crystal-clear intent: “Call me for a free ride,” it all but cooed. And I admit it. I picked up the phone, and I called.
Jay Oosterhouse of Jetlev South East answered on the other end of the line. He had an R200 jetpack available for a test flight. (What did you think I was talking about?)
After an hour flying it, I can tell you that the R200, if not quite a modern-day miracle, has a ticket in hand and is making its way toward the ballpark. It consists of a carbon-fiber frame with a race-car-style harness and two nozzles that shoot water that’s been sucked up through a hose connected to a 200-hp engine that floats along behind the rider like a motorized surfboard. It can all be controlled by someone on land via a module like the ones used with remote-control cars. Eventually, the rider learns how to control the jetpack himself with a motorcycle-type throttle. If you’ve noticed I had to describe this contraption using comparisons to various other mechanized devices, you’re onto something: The world’s never seen anything quite like this. Not in real life anyway. With some practice you can literally fly over any patch of water on earth—only the albatross will be your equal. And if the thought of that leaves you slightly disquieted, you’re doubly astute. This isn’t a PWC. A beginner can’t just hop on and go. Jetlev recommends five to ten hours of flight training, which is wise because jetpackin’ ain’t easy. But my Lord is it fun once you figure it out. I mean, it’s a freaking jetpack. There’s nothing more to say.
I’m a Rocket Man
I recently tested the Jetlev R200 water-powered jetpack down in Fort Lauderdale and man was that thing cool. Jetlev is trying to position it as the next big thing in the world of PWCs. I guess this is a PWC? I don’t really know to be honest. What I do know is that it’s a lot of fun to fly (if you couldn’t tell from my face in this video). It goes up to 33 feet in the air and its speed is still on the rise as the manufacturer tweaks the unit. So if you see a guy flying around over the water sometime soon, don’t call the cops, call the number below, and see if you can take a ride for yourself.